The world of technology has come a long ways since the days of vacuum tubes and transistors. The first electronic computers ever built, such as the IBM Eniac
, weighted approximately 80 tons and took up a whole room in size. Today, computers can be as small the size of the palm of a hand, and people with Smartphones, PCs, tablets, or any other Internet connection, have access to more computing power than existed just 40 years ago. The rate of technological innovation continues at a logarithmic scale, accelerating even faster than geometric expansion. Even the newest personal computers become almost obsolete as soon as they come off the assembly line, ready for the market.
The same technological changes also apply to where we are on the Internet, or World Wide Web. We are in the process of transitioning from the ‘old’ Web 2.0 to the advanced Web 3.0. The first Internet web pages, or web 1.0, simply displayed raw data; there was virtually no links, or even hyperlinks, such as the ones that we are familiar with today. Accessing computers to do research in the ‘old days’ was very time consuming; even when research simple topics. Back links and social networking sites, such as Facebook, MySpace, or YouTube, allow for greater levels of connectivity in the virtual universe. The Web 3.0 (sometimes called the “semantic web”), is now changing our Internet/communication/electronic interaction paradigms.
Many people are aware that the Google search engine uses very sophisticated algorithms whenever the user enters a search term. What some may not know is that those algorithms are based on your individual, personal, Internet browsing habits. In other words, not everyone gets the same search results, even if they put in the exact same terms. Search engine website make up for 3 of the top 5 most popular sites
on the planet. Google analytics remembers what you looked at in the past, different searches you may have performed, etc. The same can be said for other search engines. In addition to the user’s surfing habits there is also all the personal, individual data in online accounts. This is where Web 3.0 enters the picture.
From the abundance of information that the web 2.0 revolution has created came a need. A need to manage, organize and make information more accessible. Tim Berners-Lee
, the founder of the World Wide Web, had a vision of “machines talking to machines”. Anyone who has spent much time at all on the web usually has multiple accounts or profiles at a host of different sites. We now have a literal artificial intelligence (A.I.) “smart” web that connects us; there is TV quality open video, high speed broadband, Wi-Fi, augmented reality overlays, 3D simulators, hologram technology, virtual reality, sensors on our highways, in our cities, and even in our homes, and a semantic web. All these interfaces, devices, and more need to communicate with each other in some way.
What this all adds up to in terms of Web 3.0 is real-time match and interaction between users, the web, and electronic interfaces. It is where the real world and the computer virtual world meet, or overlap. Many science fiction movies have depicted possible scenarios of where these technological changes are taking us; for example, The Matrix, Minority Report, Lawnmower Man, The Island, and many others. The Semantic Web is taking us from the real universe to the digital universe to the Metaverse.
In a recent book called Anywhere: How Global Connectivity is Revolutionizing the Way We Do Business Emily Nagle Green describes how connectivity will become the essence. Things and places will become connected, access to information will no longer be restricted by any physical space or time. This need for connectivity s is said to be driven by technology but in some levels it is, as Emily argues, driven by desires and demands from citizens, businessmen and corporations. In fact in North America alone, the smartphone penetration rate has far exceeded the 60%. As to who is driving this demand – market forces, political powers, or other market players -, is a legitimate question that requires further analysis. But a more epidemiological question can be brought to the surface. When we do reach the point where all things and all places will be connected, and how will we be able to distinguish between reality and virtual reality?